BWCA November in the BWCA Boundary Waters Trip Planning Forum
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theshrewdloon
member (5)member
 
10/20/2021 09:06AM  
Hi All,

I'm planning to go into the BWCA the first weekend of November, but I've never gone in this late and am wondering if there is anything I should be considering.

A few facts about me, to pre-empt comments:

I'm an experienced winter camper and I'm aware of the cold and the dangers of going in the cold water. I've done a few early spring trips and have experience/common sense in that department and I typically paddle well into November on my local lakes.

I'm not planning to go wet foot and will wear rubber boots with knee-high neoprene socks underneath as a backup should I go over the tops of my boots.

I'm not going alone and won't be going more than one portage deep into the backcounty.

My main questions are about how busy I could expect a "busy" entrypoint (i.e., South Hegman) to be and whether there is a chance of light ice on the lakeshore in early November. I will, of course, be checking the forecast.

Any hints, tips, or tricks are welcome!
 
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10/20/2021 09:29AM  
Crowds will have thinned but there are likely to be diehard trippers, hunters and fishers going in until the ice says they can’t. And watching out for the ice is a definite concern by November. As you go in, keep track of all the shallow areas and bays around portages as they may go first. If you have a fancy carbon paddle, maybe leave it at home and bring a basic wood one in case you have to whack some ice to get out. I’ve done that several times,and have a dedicated “ice paddle”.

It’s dark a lot then. Have extra lighting and/or firewood processing gear.
PeaceFrog
distinguished member (175)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/20/2021 09:56AM  
Like to see a trip report and pictures after your trip. Best of luck and be safe.
billconner
distinguished member(8077)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
10/20/2021 05:52PM  
I would not be surprised if you saw no one else. I was there end of October one year - Moose Lake - and saw no one.
10/20/2021 06:47PM  
If you go during the week likely won’t see many other people. Seems to get a little busier on the weekends, especially if the weather forecast is decent for that time of year.
jillpine
distinguished member(714)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/22/2021 03:17AM  
With historically low water levels, be prepared for wet -footing it even if it’s not the plan. The portage landings and campsite landings are changed now due to the chronic drought. Recent rains have not restored water levels, at least in eastern region.
You will not have a crowded entry point anywhere the first week of November. Bring a blaze orange beanie especially if you’re anywhere on perimeter lakes or lands.
Hockhocking
member (21)member
 
10/25/2021 05:56PM  
Blaze-orange vest. Consider a wetsuit. Sounds like you are considering the right things. Good companion for conversation when it’s cold enough that holing up in your sleeping bag is the best way to stay warm when it’s dark from 5pm to 8 am. Check astronomy calendars for meteor showers, planet locations, and since it’s near new moon first weekend in Nov should offer dark skies if it’s clear!
dex8425
senior member (86)senior membersenior member
 
10/28/2021 01:50PM  
theshrewdloon: "Hi All,

I'm planning to go into the BWCA the first weekend of November, but I've never gone in this late and am wondering if there is anything I should be considering.

A few facts about me, to pre-empt comments:

I'm an experienced winter camper and I'm aware of the cold and the dangers of going in the cold water. I've done a few early spring trips and have experience/common sense in that department and I typically paddle well into November on my local lakes.

I'm not planning to go wet foot and will wear rubber boots with knee-high neoprene socks underneath as a backup should I go over the tops of my boots.

I'm not going alone and won't be going more than one portage deep into the backcounty.

My main questions are about how busy I could expect a "busy" entrypoint (i.e., South Hegman) to be and whether there is a chance of light ice on the lakeshore in early November. I will, of course, be checking the forecast.

Any hints, tips, or tricks are welcome! "


We've done a couple November paddling trips, with several portages a day. My wife says no paddling trips after mid October anymore; only backpacking! (her feet get too cold) We're backpacking up there this weekend. The busy entrypoints are NOT busy in November. You'll probably see no one other than the EP lakes. There will be ice in the small bays-pick your campsites carefully so you don't get iced in. This happened to us once. We did get out, but it took forever icebreaking with our sundowner. The higher muck boots you have, the better for portaging.
gravelroad
distinguished member(565)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/29/2021 07:23PM  
Big cool-down on its way next week - watch for ice.

TacoOverland
member (6)member
 
10/30/2021 09:00PM  
In addition to everything people mentioned, I would be extremely cautious loading and unloading the canoe. The rocks on shore can be slick in the best of times but a skim of ice will make them even more so. Also, I would be prepared for ice buildup on the hull at and just above the waterline. This can quickly add significant weight to your boat.
theshrewdloon
member (5)member
 
11/09/2021 11:29AM  
Thanks to everyone for chipping in on my questions. I ended up going in at Sawbill and didn't see anyone all weekend, save a few Forest Service employees in the Sawbill Outfitters parking lot on our way out. There was snow on the ground when we got there, but no ice on any parts of the lake. Great weather while we were there, great opportunity to inspect a bunch of sites on Sawbill Lake for future reference. Also fished with no luck whatsoever. Thanks again!
11/11/2021 06:39AM  
Awesome. Glad to hear you had a good time. I really wanted to go last weekend but couldn’t work it out to get Friday or Monday off and didn’t want to drive that far for just 1 night. I most likely would have gone to Sawbill also.
 
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